Gov. Lamont Announces Enforcement Action Against Owners of Bridgeport Establishment for Violating COVID-19 Gathering Size Rules

Report by Paula Antolini, December 31, 2020, 10:47PM EDT

(HARTFORD, CT) – 12/31/20 – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that the State of Connecticut has issued a $10,000 fine against owners of the property at 456 Connecticut Avenue in Bridgeport, the location of the Mango Z Sports Bar, for violating the state’s COVID-19 gathering size restrictions as enacted in Executive Order No. 9N.

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The violation stems from an incident that occurred at Mango Z in the early morning hours of December 20, 2020, in which Bridgeport Police were called to the scene after reports of shots fired. The Connecticut Department of Public Health – the state agency that issued the fine – determined that more than 25 people were inside of the establishment that night in violation of the gathering size restrictions, while also noting that it was operating past the mandatory 10:00 p.m. closing time that is currently in effect as part of the ongoing public health emergency.

In addition, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection has determined that the establishment did not have an active liquor permit at the time of the incident. Its most recent permit expired August 9, 2020. Serving liquor without an active permit is a criminal offense. The Department of Public Health has referred the issue to the State’s Attorney for Bridgeport to determine a possible violation of liquor control laws.

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“While the overwhelming number of businesses in Connecticut have done a great job partnering with the state and complying with the necessary protocols to prevent the spread of this virus, a small number still think the rules don’t apply to them, and these enforcement actions are necessary for those who put the health and safety of their customers and staff at risk,” Governor Lamont said. “I thank officials with the City of Bridgeport for working with the state to take a strong stand on enforcing these important safety measures.”

“The governor’s public health executive orders were put into place to protect the citizens of Connecticut and hinder the spread of COVID-19,” Acting Public Health Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford said. “The Department of Public Health takes enforcement of those orders very seriously and will issue fines for violations that endanger the public health, as we have in this case. The vast majority of our restaurants and indoor dining establishments have followed the rules, protecting their staffs and patrons, and we strongly encourage all businesses to continue to abide by the public health restrictions set forth by Governor Lamont. I thank Bridgeport officials for their cooperation in this investigation and for their commitment to protecting the health of their residents.”

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“I’d like to thank all state officials for their attention and taking action in this matter in partnership with the city,” Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim said. “This establishment has proven that its flagrant violations have put our entire community at risk and now will be held accountable.”

“It’s imperative that business owners understand that there is accountability that goes hand in hand with being responsible for the well-being and safety of their patrons in a pandemic environment,” Bridgeport Acting Chief of Police Rebeca Garcia said. “In this case, it appears that safeguards were not in place, which may have put the public at risk.”

“Gatherings that are happening in venues or in such a manner to avoid the COVID-19 restrictions create not only a public safety danger but pose a health risk to our entire community,” Bridgeport Director of Public Health and Social Services Lisa Morrissey said. “I want to thank the governor and the commissioners from both the Department of Public Health and the Department of Consumer Protection for taking a strong stand on illegal gatherings.”